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West Coast Labor Dispute Affects Stern Rubber Company

Posted by on January 8, 2015

Port of OaklandSince early November, when talks stalled between members of the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU) which represents 29 west coast ports, and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), there has been work slowdowns at all of the west coast ports. Still after seven months they are still far apart on many issues. Even though talks are ongoing, the union continues it walk-offs, slowdowns, and other problems that are having impacts on shippers, truck drivers and manufacturers bringing product in from overseas. These problems are affecting manufacturers across the U.S., and even with us at Stern Rubber Company.

The ports effected by the negotiations that cover 29 United States West Coast ports include the major container ports; Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Tacoma. These negotiations and agreement do not include ports in Canada or those ports on the United States East Coast or the Gulf of Mexico; but Stern Rubber Company has noticed slowdowns and other issues with Vancouver, British Columbia’s port in Canada.

There are eleven members of the PMA’s Board of Directors whom are the chief directors of the largest terminals.  Since May, 2014, none of these Board Members have had direct participation in negotiations and have not had a single face to face meeting with the union negotiators. Although there has been activity to resolve the strike from the start, all the decisions are made by the carriers that are sitting on the PMA’s Board of Directors.

The Port of Longreach California, courtesy of WikipediaSince July 1, 2014, twenty-thousand west coast port workers have been without an agreement and their single focus is to get a good contract for the members of the ILWU. Stern Rubber is hopeful they are almost finished. The main focus of the contract is healthcare and welfare cost and coverage ... not wages.  In addition, the union is seeking expanding jurisdiction of grain terminals and equipment repairs as they understand that growth in future employment and carriers are divesting chassis to third parties, which the union believes will cause job loss.  

Stern Rubber Company is being proactive and we will continue to work to make this work slowdown as painless as possible. Being aware that we have slowdowns on the west coast ports, Stern Rubber Company is adding a couple of weeks to our lead times.  Also we have routed our shipments through other ports in Canada and east coast ports whenever possible. If your molded rubber parts are time sensitive, we will only quote your parts at our Minnesota facilities.